Abby Thernstrom once remarked, our colleges and universities “are islands of
repression in a sea of liberty,” so we always look forward to the annual report
of FIRE to see what all those busy college repressers are up to.
FIRE has good news and bad.
news: For the fifth year in a row, the percentage of campuses that seriously
infringe free speech has declined.
News: Those schools that still seriously restrict speech account for more than
three-fifths of the 409 colleges and universities surveyed.
news: the number of schools with no speech codes has doubled.
news: That’s only 15 of the 409 schools with no speech codes.
news: Though the repression of speech on campus is a “national scandal,” the
courts and the American people reject these repressive policies.
news: Though anti-repression, American parents are eager to spend $50,000 a
year or so to place their sons and daughters in famous but pro-repression
universities like these:
- Harvard University,
which prohibits actions that “demean” others based on a variety
of personal characteristics, as well as “[b]ehavior evidently
intended to dishonor such characteristics as race, gender, ethnic group,
religious belief, or sexual orientation.” (Unless you like to take
chances, don’t utter a non-approving comment about transvestites, say, or
the Immaculate Conception. Too risky.)
- Princeton University,
which prohibits verbal behavior that “demeans … or injures another
because of personal characteristics or beliefs or their expression.”
Note that Princeton is NOT actually restricting speech, only behavior (action)
some of which turns out to be verbal action.
- Columbia University,
which prohibits “belittling remarks about a person’s gender or
belittling remarks about a person’s sexual orientation based in
gender-stereotyping,” and “inappropriate sexual innuendoes or
humor.” (Translation: Be sure
to clear all comments and jokes with someone majoring in gender studies.)